Category Archives: Aluminum Upcycled

Aluminum Upcycled at the Society for the History of Technology meeting in Philadelphia, October 26-29.

zimringpostedThe Society for the History of Technology is holding its annual meeting in Philadelphia this year, and I will discuss my book Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective (available now) as part of the “Envirotechnical Responses to Pollution Concerns” panel with Hugh Gorman, Ellen Spears, and Scott Knowles on October 28. The panel begins at 2pm.

Johns Hopkins University Press will have copies of the book for sale at the conference. The Press describes my history of sustainable design strategies this way:

Beginning in 1886 with the discovery of how to mass produce aluminum, the book examines the essential part the metal played in early aviation and the world wars, as well as the troubling expansion of aluminum as a material of mass disposal. Recognizing that scrap aluminum was as good as virgin material and much more affordable than newly engineered metal, designers in the postwar era used aluminum to manufacture highly prized artifacts. Zimring takes us on a tour of post-1940s design, examining the use of aluminum in cars, trucks, airplanes, furniture, and musical instruments from 1945 to 2015. 

By viewing upcycling through the lens of one material, Zimring deepens our understanding of the history of recycling in industrial society. He also provides a historical perspective on contemporary sustainable design practices. Along the way, he challenges common assumptions about upcycling’s merits and adds a new dimension to recycling as a form of environmental absolution for the waste-related sins of the modern world. Raising fascinating questions of consumption, environment, and desire,  Upcycling Aluminum is for anyone interested in industrial and environmental history, discard studies, engineering, product design, music history, or antiques.

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Making and Unmaking the Environment in Oslo, September 8.

UofOsloI will discuss Aluminum Upcycled at the Design History Society Annual Conference entitled “Making and Unmaking the Environment” in Oslo, Norway on September 8. Details:

Time: 9-10:30am
Panel: Upgrading Waste

Papers:
“Upcycling in Historical Perspective” Carl Zimring, Pratt Institute.

“The Re-Used Shipping Container: Environmental Design and the Cargotecture Phenomenon” Rachel Harkness, The University of Aberdeen.

“Designing Maintenance: Martin Pawley’s Garbage Housing in the 1970’s”
Curt Gambetta, Princeton University.

For information on Making and Unmaking the Environment, please visit the conference website.

Illinois Recycling Association Symposium in Chicago Thursday July 19 at 6pm

CharlesRayEamesAluminumChairThis Thursday, Steven Corey and I will discuss the past, present, and future of waste management, recycling, downcycling, and upcycling in a symposium for the Illinois Recycling Association.

Join the IRA for an entertaining evening of conversation about the history of waste reclamation, and how that history may inform a more sustainable future. Subjects will include many of the cool things we’ve made out of recycled material, from sports cars to guitars, as featured in Carl A. Zimring’s new book Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective.

Dr. Zimring, professor at Pratt Institute, will be joined by Steven Corey, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Humanities, History and Social Sciences at Columbia College/Chicago. Dr. Corey served as curator for the noted exhibition “Garbage! The History and Politics of Trash in NYC” while completing his doctorate.

Join the Conversation:
Thursday, July 20 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Auditorium Building, 435 South Michigan Avenue, AUD #420

$35 general admission
$20 Student fee
Questions: info@illinoisrecycles.org

I’ll discuss some of the ways aluminum has been upcycled, including in guitars, cars, and furniture like the designs Charles and Ray Eames made for Herman Miller (see the above image). For more information and to register, click here.

On the Upcycle in Zagreb: ESEH 2017 June 29

zagreb-squareThe European Society for Environmental History holds its biannual conference in Zagreb, Croatia this summer, and I am participating in two panels related to the history of waste.

At 11am Thursday June 29, I will chair the panel “Cultures of Waste – How Waste has Played out in Different Settings.”

Room: ARCH-11
Chair: Carl Zimring, Pratt Institute, USA
Waste and Authority: Articulating State Responses to the Problem of Littering in Norway and Singapore, 1950-2000. Finn Arne Jørgensen, Umeå University, Sweden
Waste Management in North-East India: Mizoram in Colonial Times. Jagdish Lal Dawar, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, India
Waste Studies at the OECD – in Search of a Comprehensive Waste Management Policy. Iris Borowy, Shanghai University, China
“Garbage Imperialism” or “Voluntary Exchange”? How to Make Sense of the World’s Hazardous Waste Trade. Simone M. Müller, Rachel Carson Center LMU, Germany

Immediately afterwards (at 2pm), I am presenting a paper based on my book Alumimum Upcycled in the session “Waste Or Valuable Material?”
Room: GEO-4
Chair: Marco Armiero, KTH – Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
On the Upcycle? Sustainable Design Strategies in Historical Perspective. Carl Zimring, Pratt Institute, USA
Urban Landscapes and Garbage: Public Policies for Urban Solid Waste in Brazil. Esther Mayara Rossi, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil
Waste Management after production and Consumption in Anamorava’s Region.
Sadbere Biçku, Independent scholar
Shpejtim Bulliqi, University of Prishtina, Kosovo Florim Isufi, University of Prishtina, Kosovo

For more information, please visit the ESEH website. I am delighted we have so many presentations on aspects of waste history and look forward to the conversations in Zagreb.

 

OAH Blog Post on History of Recycling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Organization of American Historians asked me to write a brief post on the Process blog about the history of recycling. Here’s the lede:

In the popular imagination, recycling arose out of the modern environmental movement. Some associate recycling with efforts to to divert discards from landfills or with World War II scrap drives when the government mobilized resources for the war effort. But recycling’s history is both older and more complicated than either of those depictions.

Paul Revere recycled, though he did not use that word…

Read the rest, including discussion of curbside programs, wartime scrap drives, and the turn towards upcycling as a sustainable design strategy.

“What We’re Throwing Away” Talk at Chicago Humanities Festival Noon Saturday

zimringpostedOn Saturday, I will be at the Chicago Humanities Festival for my talk “What We’re Throwing Away” from noon-1pm. I’ll have copies of Aluminum Upcycled available for purchase, and will do a signing after the talk.

Sat, Apr 29 | 12 – 1 PM
Venue SIX10
Feinberg Theater
610 S Michigan Ave | Chicago, IL | 60605
  • Members: $12
  • Public: $15
  • Students and Teachers: $10

Carl Zimring wrote the book on garbage. Well, several actually. He has written about environmental racism and scrap recycling and edited the two-volume Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage. His most recent work is Aluminum Upcycled, which explores how discarded materials are fashioned into goods of greater value, focusing on aluminum and its crucial role in post-WWII design. With an eye to how attitudes about waste shape culture, institutions, and inequalities, Zimring will offer a uniquely well-informed perspective on the past, present, and future of garbage.

Preorder your copy of Aluminum Upcycled through the CHF box office and save 20%.

A book signing will follow this program.

“What We’re Throwing Away” Chicago Humanities Festival Talk Apr. 29

zimringpostedI will be at the Chicago Humanities Festival for my talk “What We’re Throwing Away” April 29 from noon-1pm. I’ll have copies of Aluminum Upcycled available for purchase, and will do a signing after the talk.

Sat, Apr 29 | 12 – 1 PM
Venue SIX10
Feinberg Theater
610 S Michigan Ave | Chicago, IL | 60605
  • Members: $12
  • Public: $15
  • Students and Teachers: $10

Carl Zimring wrote the book on garbage. Well, several actually. He has written about environmental racism and scrap recycling and edited the two-volume Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage. His most recent work is Aluminum Upcycled, which explores how discarded materials are fashioned into goods of greater value, focusing on aluminum and its crucial role in post-WWII design. With an eye to how attitudes about waste shape culture, institutions, and inequalities, Zimring will offer a uniquely well-informed perspective on the past, present, and future of garbage.

Preorder your copy of Aluminum Upcycled through the CHF box office and save 20%.

A book signing will follow this program.